Parks and recreation board candidates debate
A small group of people gathered Thursday evening in Dickinson to get acquainted with the three candidates running for two seats on the Dickinson Park Board.
The three men campaigning—Howard Sharpe, the incumbent and a board member of 16 years, KC Homiston, president of Dickinson-based engineering firm Highlands Engineering, and Daniel Duletski, pharmacist at ND Pharmacy—came together at Player's Sports Bar & Grill for a debate moderated by Scott Schwindt, Western Cooperative Credit Union chief operating officer, and the last of a series hosted by the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce before the June 14 election.
The topics discussed in this last debate, as in the ones that came before it, examined Dickinson as it is and where it might go in the future. Candidates were pressed to explain their ideas for improving the city's parks system, both in terms of physical upgrades and in program offerings, and adding to the quality of life in the city as a whole.
At one point, the three men were asked what relevant experience they had for the job at hand.
Sharpe pointed to his 16 years on the board as his main qualifier, as well as past work in the private sector.
"I've been a business owner, I understand budgets and have been on the budget committee for parks and rec, and I have a wealth of knowledge that I'm willing to share when asked," he said.
Homiston said his own background in planning and engineering could prepare him to be a "resource to rely on" for the board in those matters, particularly in regards to facilities.
"Land planning and master planning is part of what a civil engineer does, whether it be easements or developments," he said, citing dialogues between past park boards and land developers. "... I think I could be a strong voice in explaining those situations to the board."
Duletski, the youngest of the three, spoke to his experience in health care, a field of expertise he said is not currently represented on the board.
"I see a lot of situations with mental health, physical health, and a lot of those things can be improved by getting people involved, whether that's running by themselves or getting involved in a group class," he said. "Those things can keep people healthy and make Dickinson a healthy town."
Trails and paths came up among the men as an agreed-upon item worthy of pursuing further, with Sharpe saying the board was working on bringing together the town's "piecemeal" trail system.
He also said the town had a "dire need" for another facility for youth baseball and soccer.
Homiston spoke favorably about green spaces and increased open turf coverage. He also said he'd support working to create a "more open space" focal point in addition to the West River Community Center, for the city's parks and recreation landscape.
Both Homiston and Duletski spoke favorably about revamping Rocky Butte Park, which Duletski described as "kind of closed off, kind of run-down" to increase usage there.
After a question about improving Patterson Lake beyond the Crooked Crane Trail project, Duletski said he believed there were opportunities to make the lake a "little more welcoming" with things like beach improvements and activities like kayak demonstrations.
Voters will choose two candidates.